Skip to comments.Dr. James Dobson Supports Free Choice (arminianism): "God does not force people to accept Him"
Posted on 06/28/2002 4:30:00 AM PDT by xzins
I'm sure you are aware that there has been a debate going on for centuries, often referred to as the Calvinistic/Armenian debate, with Scriptures to back up both sides of the argument.
Anyway, in light of your belief, following is a message I have received from Dr. James Dobson/Focus on the Family. Please advise if this viewpoint is the same viewpoint you hold to.
You asked about Dr. Dobson's beliefs regarding eternal security. He holds to the classic Armenian view -- that is, he believes God never violates the free will of the individual. Dr. Dobson feels that God does not force people to accept Him, nor will He lock them into an earlier commitment if they subsequently choose deliberately and willfully to disobey His known will.
But while Dr. Dobson does not affirm the doctrine of eternal security, he is at the same time confident that our loving God will not banish us from fellowship with Him for our mistakes, human frailties, faults, and failings. God's forgiveness for sin is one of the foundation stones of the gospel message. Still, this does not change Dr. Dobson's conviction that the choice is ultimately ours. He believes it is possible for an individual to remove himself from the grace of God, and exit by the door through which he originally entered -- the will.
This means that, in Dr. Dobson's view, it is possible for a born-again Christian to shake his fist in God's face and say in essence, "I will have my own way!" When that occurs, "There remaineth no more sacrifice for sin." This scripture, which is quoted below in its larger context, is one of at least fifty references that may be cited in support of the theological perspective to which Dr. Dobson ascribes:
*For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, the Lord shall judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.* Heb. 10:26-31 KJV
Dr. Dobson realizes many good Christians have drawn different conclusions regarding this issue. He feels it is an honest difference in understanding on the part of equally committed people who are seeking the truth through imperfect eyes. "We see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (I Cor. 13:12)
We would emphasize the following points. The Bible teaches very clearly that it is possible to fall from faith (1 Corinthians 10:12). It also assures us that God will protect us from falling (1 Corinthians 10:13). The first passage warns us when we are complacent. The second comforts us when we are troubled. Among the other passages that deal with this are Matthew 13:18-23, Hebrews 10:26, and John 10:27-29.
We would, therefore, agree with the basic points which Dr. Dobson makes about the possibility of falling from faith but not with some of the other aspects of his answer. The Armenian view held by Dobson affirms that our free will cooperates in our conversion to Christ. We believe that our natural will resists God, and our will only cooperates with the Holy Spirit after conversion. We do not by nature have a free will to make a decision for Christ. We do not by nature have the freedom to choose for Christ. We do have the freedom to chose against him. From our perspective then, Dobson's answer is half right.
Biblical Painting by Robinson, J. at streetcredart.com
I wish we could all differentiate between "ideas about the bible that we're pondering" and "ideas that we're sorta firm on, but are still considering" and "doctrine that we teach" and "doctrine that all of historic Christianity affirms from all time." (doctrinal certainty scale 1 to 4, 4 being highest certainty.)
I'd place the arminian/calvinist debate in the 2 to 3 area, but some attack the very process of thinking things through.
When that happens I just go on the offensive.
The popular designation of the doctrines held by a party formed in the early days of the seventeenth century among the Calvinists of the Netherlands. The tendency of the human reason to revolt against Calvin's decretum horrible of predestination absolute and salvation and damnation meted out without regard to merit or demerit had aroused opposition in thinking minds from the first promulgation of the dogma; but whilst the fanatical wars of religion engrossed the attention of the masses, thinking minds were few and uninfluential. Calvin's reckless tenets had banished charity and mercy from the breasts of his followers and had everywhere aroused a fierce spirit of strife and bloodshed. It throve on paradoxes. This unnatural spirit could not survive a period of calm deliberation; a leader was sure to rise from the Calvinistic ranks who should point out the baneful corollaries of the Genevan creed, and be listened to. Such a leader was Jacobus Arminius (Jakob Hermanzoon), professor at the University of Leyden. He was born at Oudewater, South Holland, in 1560. While still an infant he lost his father, a cutler by trade, but through the generosity of strangers he was enabled to perfect his education at various universities at home and in foreign parts. In his twenty-second year the brilliant youth, whose talents were universally acknowledged, was sent to Geneva at the expense of the merchants' guild of Amsterdam, in order to imbibe genuine Calvinism at the feet of Beza. In 1586 he made a prolonged trip to Italy, which served to widen his mental horizon. Rumours beginning to spread that he had fallen under the influence of the Jesuits, Suarez and Bellarmin, he was recalled to Amsterdam, was pronounced orthodox, and appointed preacher of the reformed congregation. This office he filled with ever increasing renown for fifteen years. He had all the qualifications of a great pulpit orator -- a sonorous voice, a magnificent presence, and a thorough knowledge of Scripture, which he expounded in a clear and pleasing manner, dwelling with predilection on its ethical features and avoiding the polemical asperities characteristic of his age and sect. Yet his later years were fated to be embittered by polemical strife. The revolt against predestination absolute was taking shape. A professor at Leyden had already pronounced Calvin's God "a tyrant and an executioner". The learned layman Koornhert, in spite of ecclesiastical censures, continued to inveigh successfully against the dominant religion of Holland; and he had converted two ministers of Delft who had been chosen to argue him into submission, from the supralapsarian the infralapsarian position (see CALVINISM). The task of confounding the "heretic" was now entrusted to the disciple of Beza. Arminius addressed himself to the work; but he soon began to feel that Calvinism was repugnant to all the instincts of his soul. More and more clearly, as time went on, his writings and sermons taught the doctrines since associated with his name and after his death embodied by his disciples in the famous five propositions of the "Remonstrants". For the sake of reference we give the substance of the "Remonstrantie" as condensed by Professor Blok in his "History of the People of the Netherlands" (III, ch. xiv).
"They (the Remonstrants) declared themselves opposed to the following doctrines: (1) Predestination in its defined form; as if God by an eternal and irrevocable decision had destined men, some to eternal bliss, others to eternal damnation, without any other law than His own pleasure. On the contrary, they thought that God by the same resolution wished to make all believers in Christ who persisted in their belief to the end blessed in Christ, and for His sake would only condemn the unconverted and unbelieving. (2) The doctrine of election according to which the chosen were counted as necessarily and unavoidably blessed and the outcasts necessarily and unavoidably lost. They urged the milder doctrine that Christ had died for all men, and that believers were only chosen in so far as they enjoyed he forgiveness of sins. (3) The doctrine that Christ died for the elect alone to make them blessed and no one else, ordained as mediator; on the contrary, they urged the possibility of salvation for others not elect. (4) The doctrine that the grace of God affects the elect only, while the reprobates cannot participate in this through their conversion, but only through their own strength. On the other hand, they, the 'Remonstrants', a name they received later from this, their 'Remonstrance', hold that man 'has no saving belief in himself, nor out of the force of his free-will', if he lives in sin, but that it is necessary that 'he be born again from God in Christ by means of His Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding and affection, or will and all strength', since without grace man cannot resist sin, although he cannot be counted as irresistible to grace. (5) The doctrine that he who had once attained true saving grace can never lose it and be wholly debased. They held, on the contrary, that whoever had received Christ's quickening spirit had thereby a strong weapon against Satan, sin, the world, and his own flesh, although they would not decide at the time without further investigation -- later they adopted this too -- whether he could not lose this power 'forsaking the beginning of his being, Christ.'"
The ultra-Calvinists responded by drafting a "Contra-Remonstrantie" in the following seven articles: (1) God had, after Adam's fall, reserved a certain number of human beings from destruction, and, in His eternal and unchangeable counsel, destined them to salvation through Christ, leaving the others alone in accordance with His righteous judgement. (2) The elect are not only the good Christians who are adult, but also the "children of the covenant as long as they do not prove the contrary by their action". (3) In this election God does not consider belief or conversion, but acts simply according to His pleasure. (4) God sent His Son, Christ, for the salvation of the elect, and of them alone. (5) The Holy Ghost in the Scriptures and in preaching speaks to them alone, to instruct and to convert them. (6) The elect can never lose the true belief, but they obtain power of resistance through the Holy Ghost active in them. (7) This would not lead them to follow the dictates of the flesh carelessly, but, on the contrary, they would go God's way, considering that thereby alone could they be saved.
The defection of the popular and gifted divine was a severe blow to the rigid Calvinists and started a quarrel which eventually threatened the existence of the United Netherlands. His reputation was greatly enhanced by his heroic fidelity to pastoral duty during the plague of 1602, and the following year, through the influence of admirers like Grotius, he was, notwithstanding fierce opposition, appointed professor of theology at the University of Leyden. His life as professor was an unintermittent quarrel with his stern Calvinistic colleague, Francis Gomarus, which divided the university and the country into two hostile camps. Arminius did not live to see the ultimate results of the controversy, as he died of consumption in his forty-ninth Year, October, 1609. Although the principles of Arminius were solemnly condemned in the great Calvinist Synod held at Dordrecht, or Dort, in 1618-19, and the "Remonstrant heresy" was rigorously suppressed during the lifetime of Maurice of Orange, nevertheless the Leyden professor had given to ultra-Calvinism a blow from which it never recovered. The controversy was soon transplanted to England where it roused the same dissensions as in Holland. In the following century it divided the early Methodists into two parties, the followers of John Wesley adhering to the Arminian view, those of George Whitefield professing the strict Calvinistic tenets.
Brant, Historia Vitae Arminii (Amsterdam, 1724); revised and enlarged by Mosheim (Brunswick, 1725); Nichols, Life of Arminius (London, 1843); Arminii opera theologica (incomplete-Frankfurt, 1635) tr. Nichols (London, 1825-28, Buffalo, 1853); Blok, History of the People of the Netherlands; Cambridge Modern History, III, xix; Rogge in Realencyclop die für protestantische Theologie und Kirche; Grube in Kirchenlex.; Brandt, Historia reformationis Belgicae (La Haye, 1726); Graf, Beitrag zur Gesch. der Syn. von Dortrecht (Basle, 1825).
JAMES F. LOUGHLIN
Transcribed by Robert H. Sarkissian
You asked about Dr. Dobson's beliefs regarding eternal security. He holds to the classic Armenian view -- that is, he believes God never violates the free will of the individual. ~ From Article.
Thus, salvation is NOT by the grace of God, but by the free will of man. Man wills his own salvation!
He believes it is possible for an individual to remove himself from the grace of God, and exit by the door through which he originally entered -- the will. ~ From Article
Thus, salvation is NOT by the grace of God, but by the free will of man. Man enters into salvation by the force of his own will!
Yet, my Bible says explicitly and unapologetically says:
"By grace ye are saved."
A thesis for your consideration:
The Arminian contends that God has made salvation possible for all men, therefore, for the sake of logical charity, we will concede to the "possible salvation" of all men and examine its characteristics.
It must be stated up front that a "possible salvation" is most definitely NOT an actual salvation; the certainty of the salvation of not one human being is provided for. Before a possible salvation can become an actual salvation something must be done. The Arminian must contend then that man must perform that something for a mere "possible salvation" to become an actual salvation.
Therefore, BY THE VIRTUE OF HIS OWN FORCE of WILL through whatever a man does a "possible salvation" becomes an actual salvation.
In order for the Arminian's construct to be proved there then must be some inequality in the mix that will determine the final outcome of either salvation or damnation. If grace is the inequality, then the Calvinist position is correct and Arminianism is overthrown by the concession. If it is in the WILL of MAN through faith that the man supplies, then salvation is not by grace.
The Calvinist maintains that the efficacious and irresistible grace of God saves a sinner.
The Arminian maintains that the inefficacious and resistible grace merely makes salvation possible and the final result of salvation comes NOT from the bestowal of grace but from the VIRTUE OF HIS OWN FORCE of WILL through the generation of his own faith.
Now, please answer this simple question with an "A" or "B". Is the inequality:
the GRACE of God?
the WILL of MAN?
I don't get your multiple choice? We could not save ourselves so by the grace of God (only) and the accomplished works of His Son Jesus we (mankind) could be saved. Let me ask you something . . . when you did Roms. 10:9,10 did you choose to act on your beliefs or were you forced? God bless . . .
I don't get your multiple choice?
Well, which of these fits your beliefs:
Has God secured by His grace the certainty of the salvation of a vast multitude of men from every nation, tribe and tongue and people group ~~ Calvinism
Has God merely made salvation possible for all men by His grace, but secured the certainty of the salvation of no man. ~~ Arminianism.
Start here and then we can discuss the rest of my post!
"Classic Armenian"? Pre-USSR?
I would note to you that Dobson is ecumenitial and like you has no problem with Rome or LDS or Muslims
Focus on the Family has joined forces and formed an formed an alliance with Mormons, Muslims and Hindus in the the World Congress of Families . Scripture tells us not to be unequally yoked..but Arminians are yoked to so may different doctrine I guess you have a problem figuring out who is who.
There are also questions to the "cover up " of Dobson's son's divorce and the adultry on his staff (one of the men has already been "restored")Article here
I am not surprised you are a fan of this psychologist . I suspect like him you might like to replace the pulpit with a couch :>)
Pastors accepted the lie that they could only deal with spiritual matters (with a very limited definition) and that only those who were psychologically trained were equipped to deal with psychological matters (which virtually included everything about understanding the nature of man and how to help him change). A number of evangelical Christians became psychologists and set about to educate the church regarding the importance of psychological theories and therapies in the lives of Christians.
Have a most blessed day and I'll see you at the gathering when all of us will have renewed minds and fully understand God's plan of redemption. Until then . . .
I ask this of you...do you believe that the Holy Spirit guides believers in their decisions?
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